Appeals court upholds trans bathroom policy


(NewsNation) — A Florida appeals court has upheld a policy limiting which bathrooms transgender students can use.

The legal battle over bathrooms began in 2007, when Drew Adams was blocked from using the boy’s restroom at his Florida high school.

Adams, who is transgender, sued the St. John’s school board. The school’s policy didn’t allow students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity, instead requiring they use a gender-neutral restroom or the bathroom facility corresponding with the sex they were assigned at birth.

In 2020, a three-judge panel from an appeals court sided with Adams, but that ruling was overturned on Friday, when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school board.

The court ruled the policy did not discriminate against transgender students based on sex or violate federal civil rights law. In the majority opinion, Judge Barbara Lagoa wrote, “The school board policy advances the important governmental objective of protecting students’ privacy in school bathrooms.”

The vote was split down party lines, with seven justices appointed by Republican presidents siding with the school board and four justices appointed by Democratic presidents siding with Adams.

A lawyer representing Adams said in a statement that the ruling “contradicts the rulings of every other circuit.” Two other federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of transgender students in similar cases, ruling they are entitled to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The conflict hasn’t been limited to high schools. The University of Pennsylvania was in the spotlight last year regarding policies around transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. There was concern about what locker rooms Thomas would use as well as fears she had an unfair advantage in the sport.

The conflicting appeals rulings make it more likely for the Supreme Court to take up the issue, which has divided states for years.

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